Our Partnership Rōpū (Governance Board)

Photo of Dee Cresswell in front of greeneryDee Cresswell – Co-Chair (Tauiwi)
Member Organisation: RISE (formerly SVS – Living Safe)

Dee has been a member of the Partnership Rōpū and Co-Chair (Tauiwi Executive Committee) since 2018.  The General Manager of RISE, Dee has extensive experience in the non-profit sector, both in New Zealand and overseas.

Dee is passionate about the sustainability of the specialist family violence workforce and the benefits of that workforce coming together under Te Kupenga’s banner.  It is a passion she brings to her governance role, with a laser-like focus on what how we support our member organisations and how we nurture the kaimahi of our National Office.

Dee has a Bachelor of Business Studies, a Diploma in Business and Administration in Management, and a Diploma in Development Studies, all from Massey University. She lives in Motueka and loves spending time reading and being in the outdoors.

Takurua Tawera – Co-Chair (Māori)
Member Organisation: Manaaki Ora

Takurua is a long-standing member of the Partnership Rōpū and has been its Co-Chair (Māori) since 2011.   

As Kaihautū (Clinical Team Leader) at Manaaki Ora and, in his previous role with Moana House, Takurua has profound insight into the ways in which co-existing conditions, including substance abuse, impact efforts to address family violence.

Takurua is Pou Whakarae for dapaanz and is the Chair of the White Ribbon Campaign Trust.  He is passionate about working with men to stop violence against women.


Neil Denney – Member (Tauiwi)
Member Organisation: Friendship House

Tahnea Wekepiri – Member (Māori) (seconded)
Member Organisation: Te Puna Oranga

Filling a casual vacancy until 2024 AGM

Kyley Davis – Treasurer & Member (Tauiwi)
Member Organisation: Te Manawa Family Services

Jamie Addison – Member (Māori) (seconded)
Addictions Counsellor – White Ribbon

Filling a casual vacancy until 2024 AGM


Our National Office Kaimahi Team

Merran Lawler – Pou Ārahi/Chief Executive Officer

Merran joined the National Office team in mid 2016 as its Kaiarahi/National Advocate, after several years as the manager of member organisation, Living Without Violence Waiheke (now Te Ārai Roa Manaaki).

Originally from Australia, Merran has a long history of working with and managing large multi-disciplinary teams.  A former lawyer working in the community sector with specific focus on law reform cases and in family law, she has significant insights into the ways in which systems often persecute and marginalise the very people they are intended to help.  An unapologetic feminist, Merran maintains that working with men to stop violence at its source and ensure accountability is the most feminist mahi she can do.

Merran lives with her partner and a menagerie of animals on Waiheke Island.  She travels to Wellington regularly, and dreams of the day when everyone is safe in their homes so she can stop getting on airplanes, retire and open a donkey rescue sanctuary.

Celia Bulman – Kaitakawaenga/Members Liaison

Celia has worked at Te Kupenga/National Network since 2018.  She has worked in family violence for many years: directly with women who have experienced violence; as manager of a crisis support service for women; as a professional supervisor; as a researcher and trainer with Women’s Aid in the UK; and in her current role supporting Te Kupenga/National Network member agencies to deliver the very best services within the FV specialist sector.

Celia was born in Canada, grew up in the UK and has lived in Aotearoa since 2005. She lives at the top of Te Waipounamu/South Island and appreciates it every single day!

Celia (Ce) Hirini – Tautāhi Kaimahi

Ko Panekire te maunga
Ko Waikaretaheke te awa
Ko Waikaremoana te waikaukau o ngā mātua tīpuna
Ko Ngāti Hinekura me Te Whānau Pani ngā hapū
Ko Haumapuhia te tipua
Ko Te Kuha te marae
Ko Ngāti Ruapani me Ngai Tūhoe ngā iwi
Ko Tūhoe Lambert rāua ko Ada Lambert ōku mātua.
Ko Celia Hirini nee Lambert tōku ingoa.

Ce was born in Wairoa and raised in Flaxmere. She have four beautiful daughters, six stepchildren and an incredibly supportive husband. Ce graduated from Te Rangakura bilingual teacher training in 1999 and completed a Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge from Te Whare Wananga o Aotearoa in 2019. She has worked as a Community and Service Innovation Specialist for Papakura Marae looking at imaginative ways to co-create solutions, alongside whanau so that they can experience more sunny days.  Her current role with us is Kaimahi Tautāwhi – supporting kaimahi Māori and nurturing mātauranga Māori in the family violence sector across Aotearoa/ New Zealand.

Tania Hubber – Whakatinana/Implementation Kaimahi

Tēnā koe, my name is Tania and I’m from the deep south – Waihōpai/Invercargill – where I now live, after being an Aucklander for 34 years, with my adult children and grandchildren. I started working in Family Violence over 20 years ago and in this sector I found my zone, my space. I’ve been given so many opportunities to work a range of roles, from practitioner (advocate & facilitator) to manager (Shine Advocate & Programmes Manager; Lighthouse Southland General Manager) and a few more in between. I have been blessed to have worked with some truly incredible people along the way and because of this I have hope for this sector and for ngā tangata o Aotearoa/the people of New Zealand.

Lucy Santoso – Kaiawhina

An Indonesian Kiwi and graduate of Massey University in Social Work, Lucy has experience in community work, supporting families with mental health issues and in family violence.   In 2022, Lucy joined Te Kupenga as its kaiawhina, handling the bookkeeping and administrative aspects of our virtual National Office. Originally based on Waiheke Island, Lucy recently moved with her partner, and cat, Donny to Whangarei.

Huia Mohi-Kearney – Whakatinana/Implementation Kaimahi

Ko Ngongotahā te maunga.  Ko Te Arawa te waka.  Ko Rotorua nui ā Kahumatamoemoe te roto.  Ko Tuwharetoa, ko Ngati Rangiwewehi nga iwi.  Kei Ngongotahā tōku whare.  Ko Huia Mohi-Kearney tōku ingoa. 

My mahi background is in Policing, 6 years with the NZ Police and 20 years with Queensland Police. I returned home to beautiful Ngongotahā where I now happily live with my tōku hoa tane, Julian, encircled by whānau and friends. We have 2 adult children Lily (Canada) and Jude (Gold Coast) who continue their journey of discovery.  My return home has ignited a passion to work positively toward a better, safer Aotearoa for ngā tangata while utilising my strengths in connection, communication, and collaboration.